Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are performing “A Celtic Family Christmas” at home this year.
The award-winning fiddlers from Canada have recorded their 12th annual MacMaster-Leahy Christmas show — this year’s featuring all seven of their children. The Edmonds Center for the Arts presents “A Celtic Family Christmas” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 via HomePlay.
MacMaster and Leahy invite you into their living room to share their own renditions of Christmas favorites, including “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “Sleigh Ride” “Joy To The World” “What Child Is This” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” as well as their own holiday traditions.
They decided to do limited video editing, so you get to see a lot of candid moments with their family of nine.
“Our attitude was to take our home to the stage, because fans ask us all the time, ‘What’s it like at your place at Christmastime?’” said Leahy in a phone call with The Daily Herald from their home in Douro, Ontario. “So we try to represent that, and it’s funny because, this is the one show that we can literally show them.”
The show also features the talents of Mary Frances, 15, Michael, 13, Clare, 11, Julia, 9, Alec, 8, Sadie, 6, and Maria, 2.
“Sadie is the star of the show,” Leahy said. “She’s the little sweetheart in it.”
All seven of the children play the fiddle — at the very least, Maria plays with her instrument. “She’s learning the fiddle but she hasn’t realized that it’s different from a baseball bat,” Leahy said. “Maria tries her best. She thinks she plays.”
Mary Frances also plays the piano, Michael plays the guitar and accordion, and Alec plays percussion.
“Our children play, dance and sing,” MacMaster said. “I have to laugh because all Donnell and I do is play the fiddle.”
MacMaster and Leahy toured at Christmastime for decades before establishing “A Celtic Family Christmas.” This is the first time Canada’s King and Queen of Celtic has had to cancel a tour.
When MacMaster and Leahy married in 2002, both were already stars in their own right.
(Leahy asked MacMaster for a blind date after listening to one of her cassettes in 1991. They dated for two years, broke up for 10, then got engaged after dating for two more months.)
Together, they have a number of JUNO, East Coast Music, Canadian Country Music Association and Canadian Folk Music awards, as well as a Grammy.
They’ve shared the stage with Béla Fleck, Alison Krauss, Faith Hill, Carlos Santana, The Chieftains and Shania Twain. Husband and wife’s first collaboration album in 2015, “One,” sold over 1 million copies worldwide. In addition to their annual Christmas tour, MacMaster and Leahy have an accompanying TV special and are hosts of the Greenbridge Celtic Folk Fest.
The Christmas tour and TV special are both titled “A Celtic Family Christmas,” after their 2016 album of the same name.
Celtic music is in this family’s genes. The MacMaster-Leahy lineage can be traced back to Ireland, Scotland and Nova Scotia — which is “New Scotland” in Latin. McMaster has been playing Celtic music since she picked up the fiddle at 10; Leahy got his start at just 3 years old.
Christmas is the only time their children get to perform live with Mom and Dad.
MacMaster and Leahy didn’t plan to put their children on stage — they just knew it’d be harder to not take the kids on the road with them. It helps that they’re all homeschooled by MacMaster, who has a teaching degree.
“It wasn’t intended, but then Mary Frances wanted to come on stage,” said Leahy, who performed in his youth with The Leahy Family. “Then Michael wanted to go.”
Most recently, Mary Frances, Michael, Clare, Julia and Alec performed with MacMaster and Leahy on the German TV variety show “Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel.”
The family of fiddlers recently recorded the single “Please Please Snow!” — Leahy’s new favorite Christmas song — which also is featured 2020’s “A Celtic Family Christmas” show and album. Watch the music video for “Please Please Snow!” on YouTube.
Can’t watch the show on Dec. 19? No problem. As long as you purchase a ticket, you can stream “A Celtic Family Christmas” as many times as you want through Dec. 31.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
The Edmonds Center of the Arts presents Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy’s “A Celtic Family Christmas” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 via HomePlay. Champion fiddlers MacMaster and Leahy invite you into their home for Celtic music, step-dancing, baking cookies and stories of raising their seven children, farming and Christmas traditions. Tickets are $20. More at www.edmondscenterforthearts.org.